Age Demands Action

Age discrimination and ageism are still commonplace across the world and urgent action is needed to stop it.

Age Demands Action is a grassroots movement of campaigners in 60 countries. Older people meet with decision-makers and lobby their local and national governments to push the issues most important to them, such as pensions and healthcare. 
 
Age Demands Action campaigners are busy all year round, but focus their efforts on three key dates:

7 April: Age Demands Action on Health

A younger activist joins up with older people for an ADA on Health march in Thailand (c) HelpAge International/FOPDEV

(c) HelpAge International/FOPDEV

A younger activist joins up with older people for an ADA on Health march in Thailand

On WHO's World Health Day (7 April) Age Demands Action activists around the world campaign for better healthcare. 
 

This year’s theme, from the World Health Organization (WHO), is depression.

We are calling on older men and women to take action to draw attention to high levels of depression among older people. 

Depression and older people

Globally, an estimated 350 million people of all ages suffer, and it affects 7% of the general older population.

Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine a person's mental health at any point in their life. As well as the stress that can affect those of any age, many older people lose their ability to live independently because of limited mobility, chronic pain, frailty, or other mental or physical problems. This can mean they require long-term care.

Older people are more likely to experience bereavement, disability or a drop in socioeconomic status with retirement. All of these factors can result in isolation, loss of independence and psychological distress.

Symptoms of depression in older people are often overlooked, untreated and under-identified because they coincide with other problems or because there is a stigma that surrounds mental health.

What we want decision makers to know

  • Depression is a common mental disorder that affects people of all ages, from all walks of life, in all countries.
  • Mental health and emotional wellbeing are as important in older age as at any other time of life.
  • Older people face particular physical and mental health challenges that need to be recognised and tackled.
  • Studies suggest that receiving an income allows older people greater autonomy and can reduce feelings of financial dependency.
  • Tackling ageism within the health sector will be crucial in ensuring increased access to health services for older people, including for depression.

How are partners taking action this year?

This year 56 campaign partners are mobilising around the world and six new partners are joining Age Demands Action for the first time.

  • In Fiji, a delegation of older people will meet with the Minister of Health and host live radio talk shows to discuss depression.
  • In Rwanda, our partner will hold a workshop on depression with older people, health professionals and representatives from residential care centres.
  • In Nicaragua, older people will be meeting with journalists to raise awareness of depression more widely among older people.

Read more about World Health Day and how older people are affected by older people.

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15 June: Age Demands Action on Rights

Older campaigner Kenneth Hemley making an intervention at the UN Open-ended Working Group (c) HelpAge International

(c) HelpAge International

Older campaigner Kenneth Hemley making an intervention at the UN Open-ended Working Group

On 15 June, UN's World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Age Demands Action campaigners come together to call for their rights to be protected.

Responses to the problem of elder abuse are inadequate. Less than one-third of governments worldwide have implemented any sort of strategy to combat this problem. There are no international human rights standards or conventions on freedom from violence and abuse in older age.

For this reason, Age Demands Action on Rights takes place every year on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on 15 June. It is a key date for older men and women to come together to raise awareness about elder abuse and to campaign on the need to protect their rights under international law. Together, they are calling for their governments to support a new UN convention on the rights of older people.

27 countries took part in 2016. Below are examples of what partners are doing to raise awareness about elder abuse:

  • Peru – our partner organised a poetry contest called Voices Against Violence.
  • The Philippines – campaigners gathered stories about elder abuse to share with their government.
  • Kyrgyzstan – campaigners took part in a flash mob and organised a theatre event.
  • Slovenia – our partner organised its annual Festival of the Third Age.
  • Kenya – older campaigners collected signatures for a petition calling for action to stop elder abuse in their country.

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1 October: Age Demands Action Global Day of Action

The women of Mwanza in Tanzania, older women are challenging ageism (c) Clemence Eliah/HelpAge International

(c) Clemence Eliah/HelpAge International

In Mwanza, Tanzania, older women are challenging ageism

Age Demands Action Global takes place every 1 October on International Day of Older Persons and the theme for 2016 is Take a Stand Against Ageism.

We are using this opportunity to highlight how ageism manifests itself across the world and leads to the discrimination, stereotyping and abuse of older people everywhere. 

"Stereotyping and discrimination against individuals or groups on the basis of their age; ageism can take many forms, including prejudicial attitudes, discriminatory practices, or institutional policies and practices that perpetuate stereotypical beliefs" – WHO World Report on Ageing and Health

Global campaign to combat ageism 

The problem of ageism is increasingly gaining traction at a global level and combatting it is now seen by the World Health Organisation and other global institutions as being of critical importance. At the 69th World Health Assembly in May a resolution sponsored by 17 countries called for a global campaign to combat ageism. We hope that this ADA Global will help support the first steps to take a stand against this worldwide problem.

Why take a stand against ageism?

  • Ageism is all around us.

  • All older people are different but ageism assumes that growing older is the same experience for everyone.

  • We must question ageism and how older people are often stereotyped in a certain way because of their age.

  • We live in a world where older people’s rights are denied. This must change!

  • Let’s begin to appreciate our diversity throughout our whole lives including in later life.

  • We live in an ageing world. Let's not make it an ageist one!

Ageism campaign manuals

We are encouraging campaigners to hold consciousness-raising and role-play workshops as a way to explore ageism. 
 
Consciousness raising is a tool to unpack social perceptions and prejudices and allows for participants to draw on personal experiences with others.
 
Theatre is about stories and the collective act of sharing stories. We hope that by taking part in roleplay workshops, older men and women will be able to explore certain scenarios of ageism, but also have the chance to share and act out their own experiences.
 
We have guides on hosting consciousness-raising and role-play workshops, or please contact the campaigns team campaigns@helpage.org for more information.
 
What can you do for Age Demands Action Global on 1 October?

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